“Liverpool were a good, talented footballing side but our lads were a lot stronger against Liverpool. Tonight, playing against a very experienced team who have been around the block a bit was a massive learning curve for some of the younger players to know the standard if they want to make a living in the game and that will only stand them in good stead.”
So said John Sheridan following a home defeat by Port Vale in the EFL trophy. In reality the 3-1 scoreline was flattering to a Latics side who were out of their depth on the night.
Sheridan had put out a mixed lineup as he had in the game against the Liverpool U21 side.
The team included seven players who were under 23, together with Owen Evans (23), Tom James (24), Lee Evans (26), Dan Gardner (30).
On first glance the formation looked well balanced, but as play commenced, we saw that Chris Merrie was playing at left back, Tom Pearce on the left wing and Dan Gardner in holding midfield. After conceding a couple of goals due to errors Sheridan reverted to the line-up we would have expected, with Merrie back in midfield and Pearce at full back. Even before the errors the visitors were causing problems to a defence that was all at sea.
Sheridan has let it be known that he is looking for some more experienced players to supplement his squad: to get a suitable blend of youth and experience. Both Gardner and Viv Solomon-Otabor have signed extended contracts until January. Solomon-Otabor has looked impressive in his early Latics career. Gardner, who had worked previously under Leam Richardson at Chesterfield and Sheridan at Oldham, has looked less so. Nathan Cameron’s short-term contract is coming to an end shortly and Sheridan will have to decide whether to offer an extension. He has played in two league games so far but has been suffering from an injury.
The transfer window for EFL clubs closes on October 16. However, due to the economic impact of the Covid-19 virus many clubs have clubs have tightened their belts. The net result is hundreds of free agents available in the football markets.
Gerald Krasner has stated that he expects to be out by the end of the month, assuming the Garrido takeover is completed by that point. Whether the administrators will allow Sheridan to sign more players during that time remains to be seen, but there will still be free agents available beyond October should new ownership give the green light.
Krasner has taken a lot of flak from Latics fans, but if the sale to Jose Miguel Garrido Cristo goes through he and his associates might ultimately be remembered as the people who helped save the club from liquidation.
Jay Whittle has been an outstanding source of information for Latics fans in the times of crisis over these months. His interviews with key people involved in the fight to keep the club afloat have been both revealing and empathetic. This recent one with Gerald Krasner is well worth viewing if you have not already done so: